Victory claimed over council bus cuts ‘Partial U-turn’

PUBLISHED: 16:47 26 January 2012 | UPDATED: 10:57 30 January 2012

A LIB Dem county councillor is claiming a victory over Shire Hall after a “partial u-turn” on bus subsidy cuts.

Cllr Susan van de Ven, who represents Foxton, Heydon, Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and the Chishills, has been fighting against the move and has welcomed Cambridgeshire County Council’s decision to invest £1.5 million in newly organised public transport.

Cllr van de Ven, who is also the shadow member for transport, said: “This partial u-turn is a big victory for the Lib Dems and good news for local bus users.

“The Tories have finally relented and accepted the principle that you cannot provide socially necessary rural transport for nothing. “Removing 50 per cent of the cuts is a big improvement on the 100 per cent cut that was planned, which was the worst in the country.

“This will allow some of the bus services the Tories still intend to cut to be replaced with some form of alternative.

“It is just a shame they didn’t listen to the public’s concern and reinstate more of the funding.”

Cambridgeshire County Council announced the plans after a £2.7m cut to bus subsides was put on hold under the threat of judicial review and a consultation which found 81 per cent of people objected to the cuts.

The money will be invested in a new community transport scheme, Cambridgeshire Future Transport, which will coincide with the removal of traditional routes.

But the Conservative-led council claims this is too expensive.

Several services in-and-around Royston are facing the axe with both the 128, which runs from Royston to Melbourn, and the 127, from Ashwell to Bassingbourn, potentially being chopped.

The removal of subsidies would save the authority £73,539.

The 31 which runs from Barley to Cambridge, before stopping at Chishill and Heydon may also be cut.

Cllr van de Ven told The Crow she had been contacted by people who use the route to get to work fearful they may be stuck if it is removed

Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Steve Criswell, cabinet member for community infrastructure, said: “It is clear that people value their subsidised bus services which is why we paid for them even though commercially they were not viable.

“But with the large savings we, like other authorities, have to make we have to look at whether these bus services can be better provided rather than using large vehicles to carry a relatively small amount of people.

“That is why we are considering investing £1.5 million into alternative transport solutions and phasing reductions over three years. “If agreed, we would work closely with communities to make sure alternatives are in place that are tailored for local needs.”

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